Akatsuki no Yona follows a girl named Princess Yona of the Kingdom Kouka who starts off in the palace as the princess who has everything. The first episode is pretty straightforward and only serves to set up the initial premise. We are introduced to the sweetest cousin Soo-Won and the cute but annoying bodyguard, Son Hak. It seems like Yona only has eyes for her cousin Son-Won but as things seem to be romantically in Yona’s favour, Soo-Won ends up murdering Yona’s father AKA the King. Yona’s world turns upside down on the night of her sixteenth birthday…
I mean, it’s not unlikely that Soo-won was harbouring ill will towards Yona and the King. We see this all the time in court settings but we really don’t get any shadowy scenes of Soo-Won until that very moment when he stabs the King. No foreshadowing or hinting beforehand and I understand that it’s because the story wants to get the inciting incident out of the way to make way for the bulk of the plot which is Yona’s life outside the palace but still, a little warning would be nice. Also, because the story is largely told from Yona’s perspective, we don’t see anyone but the perfect Soo-Won in her eyes which is why the sudden murder might seem a little out of the blue when it happens.
It’s the classic ancient drama series set up – a close family member of the King murders the King himself in order to usurp power, the surviving princess or prince of that incident must brave the world outside the palace until he or she becomes strong enough to defeat her evil uncle or cousin. This is all taken pretty far in episode one when Yona herself almost ends up being murdered by the very man she loved. Luckily Son Hak jumps in to save her.You may or may not have guessed that there will be SOME romance between Hak and Yona.
What I liked most about this episode was how it clearly came full circle by the end of the episode. Yona, in the prologue, starts off in the mountains, standing by the cliffs, almost reminiscing her old life in the kingdom. We know that at some point she’ll flee the kingdom. If not here in the first episode then definitely by the time we finish the second episode. Even in the credits we see Yona with her red hair cut short, living in the wilderness. I’m really interested in seeing Yona change and mature from a spoiled innocent princess to a mature young warrior.
My issue with this episode is that the animators almost expect you to instantly pin down Soo-won’s motive to the fact that the previous late king chose Yona’s father, the younger son, to be King, rather than Soo-won’s father who was older. We actually skip Soo-won’s ENTIRE mini back story monologue in the anime here (but I’m sure fans could generally guess). Not sure if Soo Won is going to spout it off again in front of Hak and Yona or if we’re on a time crunch with his why they skipped that part of the manga. Nevertheless, I’m excited for the second episode.
If you’re looking for one of those quest-styled, fantasy action adventure stories then Akatsuki no Yona is definitely for you. I actually really think this series could flourish well not only as an anime but also as a Korean drama or movie. Will Yona ever get her kingdom back? Will she find out the “mystery” behind her red hair? The art style leans more towards shoujo but I think there’s enough action for male-viewers as well.
What are you pondering today?